Salem is now in open beta and I've had a chance to jump in and see what the game actually is. It's being called "The Crafting MMO," but that could really mean anything. It seems to still be early on in development, so it's rough around the edges, but I can see some promise in this non-combat massively multiplayer online game.
The core concept here is that you can pretty much do whatever you want by gathering materials and then learning how to make things out of them. It reminds me a lot of old-school RuneScape with a good mix of ideas from A Tale in the Desert and Minecraft.
Players will find themselves starting out as a chubby little naked person on their way to the new world. For some reason there are a lot of naked people in here; they don't have any details downstairs, but I guess they just didn't have underwear back in the day. You travel to Boston, Plymouth, or Roanoke to begin your career as a crafter.
The tutorial is scarce at this point, so good luck trying to figure out what to do next. After messing around for a bit, I managed to find myself alone in the wilderness naked without food. I started gathering sticks to build a shelter, and that's when the game started to click with me. The point is to just exist, very much like Minecraft. You walk around and gather stuff to build things, and over time you can harvest better materials and build bigger things.
Each player has a dedicated home area which is a personal instance that they can share with other players if they choose. If you want to just be alone, you can be. In this little wilderness spot, you can harvest wood, stone, dirt, and other natural things to use as crafting supplies.
I didn't get very far, but I like the raw concepts that are present in Salem. Right now it's not done, and it feels more like an alpha than a beta, but it has some promise. Once they get a better tutorial in place to help players get off in the right direction, this could be an interesting game.
Salem will be free-to-play when it comes out, and if you want to see what the beta is like, you can sign up here.